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Physicians and Surgeons

A Physician or Surgeon (M.D.) is an individual issued a license allowing them to practice medicine. A physician may diagnose, prescribe, and administer treatment to individuals suffering from injury or disease.

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Examination Requirement

To qualify for licensure in California, you must take and pass a written examination. For a listing of all acceptable examinations, please refer to Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR) section 1328.

Note: The appropriate examination entity must submit the Transcript of Scores directly to the Board.

Acceptable Examinations

United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)

The USMLE examination is the most common examination used to meet the examination requirement.

  • For a Physician's and Surgeon's (P&S) License, you must take and pass Steps 1, 2CK, and 3 of the USMLE examination.
  • For a Postgraduate Training License (PTL), you must pass Steps 1 and 2CK of the USMLE examination.
  • USMLE Scores are valid for a period of 10 years and expire on the last day of the month you passed each step of the examination. The Board may extend expired scores for any of the following:
    • Time spent in a postgraduate training program including, but not limited to, residency training, clinical training, fellowship training, remedial or refresher training, or other training that is intended to maintain or improve medical skills (BPC section 2184(b)(2)(B)).
    • If you are a licensed physician and surgeon in another state, federal territory, or a Canadian province who is currently and actively practicing medicine in that state or province (BPC section 2184(b)(2)(C)).

You will be required to retake and pass the expired examination step(s) or take and pass the Special Purpose Examination (SPEX) of the Federation of State Medical Boards to remediate any expired score(s).

Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC)

  • For a PTL or P&S License, you must pass LMCC Part I/MCCQE Part I.

National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME)

  • For a P&S License, you must pass all parts of the NBME or another accepted combination. Please refer to CCR section 1328 for a listing of all acceptable exam combinations.

Federation Licensing Examination (FLEX)

  • For a P&S License, you must have taken and passed FLEX components 1 and 2 or an acceptable combination of examinations. Please refer to CCR section 1328 for a listing of all acceptable exam combinations.
    • Prior to 1985, applicants must have achieved a FLEX weighted average score of 75 or higher in one sitting.

State Board Examination

  • You must have taken a State Board Examination prior to June 1, 1969.
  • You shall be eligible for licensure if you have taken and passed the State Board Examination after June 1, 1969, and meet the requirements of BPC section 2135.5.

Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)

Examination Verification Agencies

The Board must receive verification of your examination scores directly from the appropriate organization(s). You may request the verification of examination scores by contacting the following agencies: